Monday, January 3, 2011

Sauna possibilities

The amount of work put into something should be commensurate with the actual payoff in the end.  It's evolutionarily sound advice.  But when it comes to our pet projects and interests, it can be hard to follow – it's hard to quantify and measure the value of happiness.  (Perhaps it could be indirectly measured as reduced symptoms of stress.)  I have been giving thought to the design of a sauna I would like to build this summer, and the variety of interesting features that I could build into it.  One of these is mobility.  A sauna can be relatively empty, small, and light - heating a large space is inefficient.  Glenn at Sauna Times has a very nice 8x12 sauna custom built by Tuff Shed that contains a changing room and enough space for a sauna party (see video tour).  It was designed to be moved around using a flat bed trailer; his current project is to build a sauna affixed to its own trailer.  (It would operate like this.  I could get bids at a machine shop for fabricating one locally, perhaps.)  Building a small sauna on a skid foundation, like this calf range shelter, would allow a well braced building to be towed short distances, say to the top of my hill for a great view.  If so desired, it would be easier to move it than build it there in the first place, since all my materials and electricity are down by the house.  Besides, methods for moving much larger buildings using only the strength of a single man are well documented by many intrepid individuals, like Wally Wallington.  I even considered building a rotating sauna, like the post mills of yore, or a sauna on a trailer, like Jay Shafer's tiny house "Epu", or a sauna conversion of a trailer RV.  And I looked through the interesting book "Revolving Architecture: A History of Buildings That Rotate, Swivel, and Pivot" by Chad Randl.  But I would get the greatest benefit per effort expended, and incur the least risk financially, if I built a small sauna on a skid and concrete block foundation.  Added complexities such as those described above, while providing more convenience and possibilities for sauna use, could double the cost and time involved, and would make more sense once I have more experience and resources.  An interesting side idea: in a very windy climate, one could use wind energy alone to create enough heat for a sauna.  This is a very realistic possibility in many coastal areas of Alaska, where other sources of renewable energy are either unavailable or more difficult to harness.  (Hmmm... I wonder when Chena Hot Springs will ever build a sauna at their resort with geothermal energy?)

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